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Guest opinion

Tucson is breaking its promise by doing business with border-wall contractor

When the Tucson City Council unanimously voted to oppose the border wall, it promised Tucsonans that the city would take a stand against President Donald Trump's ongoing fear-mongering campaign. The city even went a step further and promised its constituents to divest from the wall by passing a resolution to impose penalties and restrictions on companies that profit off it in any form, from its design to its construction.

So why then is the city of Tucson still doing million-dollar business with an Arizona company making its own millions by constructing the border wall in my community, El Paso, Texas?

West Point Contractors, a Tucson-based company, is currently constructing a brand-new, 18-foot, $22 million, four-mile wall through some of my binational community's oldest neighborhoods. The wall is planned to cut through the Chihuahuita Historic District, a neighborhood on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's most endangered historic places list; a community that represents El Paso's history as one of the largest, safest cross-border cities in the U.S.

The city of Tucson is doing big business with this company while it is profiting from building a wall that is endangering, not protecting, our community: Tucson has awarded $1.4 million in contracts to West Point since 2012. This is in direct conflict with what the city pledged to its residents, to not support the construction of any iteration of the border wall.

The people of Tucson were not alone in their anti-border militarization pledge. Pima County officials also listened to its residents and passed a resolution denouncing President Trump's executive order to build more border wall and further militarize the borderlands. The county's supervisors agreed that the wall created devastating, complex socio-economic problems for the communities that live and work along the border and was a symbol of division that county residents eagerly rejected. Some three dozen other cities, towns, counties, and Native American tribes have also passed similar resolutions all across the U.S. southwest border.

If you are alarmed to hear that border wall funding and construction has been happening at all, you should be. Though there is currently a congressional budget debate around appropriating billions of additional taxpayer dollars to fund further wall construction, in the last year Congress has already allocated $2 billion for new border walls and so-called replacement walls.

Thanks to this obscene amount of money, West Point Contractor's bulldozers and heavy equipment already rumble through our El Paso neighborhoods ready to rip it apart in the name of four miles of false security and empty claims of protectionism.

There is a long history of wasteful federal spending by politicians interested in scoring political points on the backs of immigrant communities, resulting in billions of dollars flowing to private companies that engage in abusive immigration practices with little oversight. When the constituents of a community recognize this waste and destruction, elected officials have the obligation to listen.

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My neighbors and I in El Paso urge the city of Tucson, and its residents, to honor their promise to divest from contracts with companies like West Point Contractors. We cannot afford to give a pass to companies that are profiting from the destruction and militarization of our communities.

Cynthia Pompa is the advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, coordinating work in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

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1 comment on this story

Dec 28, 2018, 7:32 pm
-1 +0

The border needs to be closed. Anyone with an iota of common sense understands that. The problem is that common sense is in very short supply these days, as emotions trump common sense in a large portion of our population, and the media plays to that..

However, the “wall” is but a symbol. Both sides use it to rouse their respective bases.

There are far more efficient, effective, and cost effective ways to achieve the same, without the ugly blight of a wall, which, by the way, would hinder the movement of wildlife, which recognize no border.

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